Traders blame demolition work on footbridge for fire
While a fire gutted many shops in the capital's New Super Market in Dhaka this morning, some traders said the fire was caused by pre-dawn electrical works on a footbridge adjoining the market.
The fire broke out at 5:40am and 30 firefighting units, along with teams from army, navy and air force, brought it under control at 9:10am.
Traders said work started on the bridge, from which people can enter the first floor of New Super Market, as early as 4:00am.
A source in Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) said their workers had cut a portion of the steps around 5:00am, but they saw that the fire had started around 150 feet away.
Asked what he thought started the fire, trader Faruk Munshi said, "The fire started when the bridge was being demolished. The footbridge steps were very close to the first floor of the market. There were clothes all around the steps of the footbridge. The clothes caught fire when the welding work was being done, and the fire spread in the market."
Trader Babul Munshi pointed at the footbridge and said, "It was because of work being done to demolish this bridge. It began at 4:00am … no one does this kind of work that early."
Robin, a trader who owns a shop named Linkin Park in the market said the bridge was demolished around 4:30am.
Faruk Munshi blamed the city corporation for the fire, "If they had listened to the market leaders, this would not have happened."
Fire Service and Civil Defence Director General Brig Gen Md Main Uddin acknowledged the claim but emphasised the need for investigation before drawing any conclusions.
An official of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), who wished to remain anonymous, said their workers had been working at the spot around 5:00am.
"Around a year ago, we had closed down the footbridge because it was risky, but people continued to use it and traders also set up stalls there. So, around 10-12 days ago, we cut the lower portion of the stairs. But as we saw that people were still using the footbridge, and considering the greater number of shoppers surrounding Eid, we did work to cut more steps around 4:00am today," the official said.
"When our workers had completed their work and were leaving, they saw the fire had started around 150 feet away from the spot where they were working."
Over the past two years, DSCC told traders in the shops on several occasions to stop keeping clothes in front of the stores, the official added.
Later in the day, the DSCC officially refuted these allegations and said there was no scope to link the fire to the demolition work.
Refuting traders' allegation that the fire at New Super Market originated from the electrical works on a nearby footbridge, DSCC Spokesperson Md Abu Nasher said there was no scope to link the fire to the demolition work.
"The spot of the fire incident was around 400 feet away from the demolition work and they did not use any gas cutter here," DSCC Spokesperson Md Abu Nasher said.